Alan and I hit the water at 6 am sharp for the blackfish opener today. It seems a lot of people were as excited about the tog season starting as we were. There were close to a dozen boats in some form of launching when we pulled out from the docks. With sunrise not until well after 7, we made our way out to a shallow point strewn with boulders and began tossing Pin Poppers. In the first two drifts, we had 4 fish in the boat and lost 3 others. All of them were between 30 and 39″. As the sun got higher, the bite slowed so we moved east towards Fishers Island in search of albies
It didn’t take too long to find what we were looking for. Mid way down the island, we found a few birds working over bait on the surface. As we throttled down to see what was going on, the water erupted under the birds as bait sprayed in every direction. Alan hooked up first on a Deadly Dick and I followed up shortly after on a Houdini Shad. The albies stayed up for nearly 2 hours and we while they were finicky at times, we picked away and managed nearly a dozen in the boat. We had a few bonus seabass and porgy by dropping jigs down through all the bait in 30 feet of water. The porgy went back, the seabass that were of legal size were kept for dinner.
The initial game plan was blackfish but the albies were too good to ignore but by noon, it was time to get back on track. We stowed the albie rods and got the jigging gear out. I had been eyeing up a certain rock pile all year wondering if it would hold any blackfish and today was the day to find out. The Minn Kota Riptide proved its worth yet again. With Spot-Lock engaged, I was able to hold the boat effortlessly right up tight to the rocks. With totally hands free operation, we flipped our 3/4 oz jigs tipped with crabs back into the boulders and slowly hopped them back along the bottom. Some of the hits were subtle but others were bone jarring. I had a hit that I was not ready for and it nearly ripped the rod out of my hands. There was some serious weight to the tog and it ripped quite a bit of drag, I was lucky to get this one in the boat. We never got any measurements but I’m guessing well over 8 pounds…
I’m going to be eating good this weekend with striper, blackfish and seabass on the menu…
You can pick your days off but you certainly can’t pick the weather on your day off… My wife and I made the best of a gray, wet and windy day by seeking shelter behind Fishers Island. The plan was for albies but this late in the year, anything can happen and today it did. We found what we were looking for without too much trouble. There were small pods of albies popping up all along the island. At first, they were very picky. We threw all the usual lures without a sniff. I finally shifted gears and broke out the YUM Houdini shads. Because of all anchovies we were seeing, I chose the camo pearl color and rigged it with a 2/0 hook. With the wind we had, boat position was everything. We stayed up wind and used the screaming breeze to carry our soft plastics to the blitzes. The results were instant and often.
We followed the blitzing fish into shallow water and continued to pick away at the albies. Along the way, I noticed my ONIX was showing a ton of bait under the boat in less than 20 feet of water. Mixed in with the bait appeared to be some bigger fish feeding on them. With a 3/8 jig head on the Houdini, I dropped down and was smacked before the plastic made it to 15 feet… Seabass! Not just a seabass but a keeper. For the next hour, we caught one after the next with 4 out of 5 being keepers. Heidi had the biggest of the day which measured just shy of 18″. We kept 8 for dinners this week and let the rest go. All that hit the fillet table were totally stuffed with anchovies… I’ve never seen such big seabass in shallow water before, we had a blast with them but finally the albie blitzes in the binoculars were just too intense to ignore any longer. We finished the day by working from pod to pod along our way back. Despite being damp and chilly, Heidi was a trooper. She landed her very first albies and seabass and would have stayed all day if I asked to. Hope to do it again soon!
For the first time in nearly 2 seasons we FINALLY got into albies today… LOTS of albies! There had been a few reports popping up of sightings and a few landings so Al, Bob and I left Niantic in the dark. We were on the reefs at sun up, it took a little while but eventually there were the unmistakable explosions of albies crashing on bait. The bait was small and without being able to identify it, we went with the old albie standby, the Deadly Dick. The very first pod we pulled up on produced a double header on the first cast
For the next 3 hours, it was lock and load. Pods of albies would pop constantly all around us, sometimes they were all around us. The fish that we got to the boat were all puking up anchovies, a small brown bait. As the sun got high, they seemed to get finicky so I decided to match the hatch. My first choice was a the slow sinking Bomber Badonk-A-Donk in gold. They cast a mile and let me quickly cover water. I hooked up the second the lure landed in the blitz.
I had several fish on the Badonk-A-Donk and switched things up with a Bomber Suspending Pro Long A in watermelon pearl, it was a dead ringer for some of the larger anchovies and silversides were were seeing in the water. It didn’t quite have the casting distance as the Badonk-A-Donk but it more than made up for distance in action. I was picking fish up blind casting while waiting for albies to pop up within range again. We had over 20 fish in the boat in no time at all…
We ended up packing it in around noon with an unknown total landed. After 20, it just didn’t matter anymore. As it turns out, our decision to head back to the ramp was a good one as the wind was steadily picking up. With a full moon tide and gusts over 20, it got a bit rough. I’ll be back at it tomorrow! Here are a few other pics from our day on the water:
I had the Calavan crew back on board today after a very slow trip on Friday. The water had come down a bit further and cleaned up nicely, I had a good feeling as soon as we launched. With surface temps at 58, it was prime time for top waters and the stripers didn’t disappoint. We were into fish within minutes of shutting the boat down. We spent the whole morning in 4-8 feet of water drifting along the flats. No real giants today but it was consistent action until the sun got high and the bite shut right off…
The river runs seems to have taken forever to get going, but we may finally be on to something now. I have been beating up on schoolies regularly but finally scored a real fish last night. Tom G and I fished north of Hartford along a shallow, fast moving stretch of water. The temps were 51-52 degrees but the real key was the visibility. We finally could see more than 2 feet into the water. We fished from 6:30 to 10 pm and only boated one but it was a hell of a fish… We had a couple of other hits but that was it for hook ups. The weather forecast looks excellent for the next few days, I feel far more confident for my next few charters…
The weather has been insane lately. One day I’m fishing in -5 and 2 days later, it’s 60 degrees and I’m fishing in a monsoon with lightning! I’ve been loving every minute of it. The ice conditions are improving every day despite the 8″ of snow followed by the inch of rain and warm temps. I measured 7″ of ice yesterday… The pike fishing has been slow to say the least but the jigging for crappie has been the best I’ve ever seen. I am consistently seeing 14″ crappie with the biggest so far being just under 16″
Yesterday was one of my more enjoyable trips in a long time. The weather was ugly with pouring rain and rumbles of thunder but the fish were fired up. Saxitalis came along with me, she wasn’t thrilled with the rain but she stuck it out. Watch the video to the end and you’ll see how much rain we got as the water ran back into the holes!
We were rewarded for our efforts with some amazing fishing. For a while, the crappie were averaging 13″ or so and I iced the largest of the year so far at almost 16″. The last few trips, the crappie definitely wanted some meat on the jigs so I had been tipping the Slick Jigs and Flyers with shiners. The big one I got showed up on the Humminbird flasher but wouldn’t eat. I teased her for a few minutes and she would follow every move the jig made but wouldn’t commit. I finally grabbed another rod that had a much smaller Frostee on it and dropped it down. She inhaled that one instantly… It pays to be flexible, you just never know what they want!
8 hours after it was pouring and 60, the bottom had dropped out and the temps were back below freezing again. By 6 am this morning, we were back down to 5 degrees. The CT River is just about completely jammed up with ice again. I took these pics this morning from the Docks in Old Lyme. The ice sounded pretty cool as it ground along the bridge abutments as it flowed out to the salt!
I’ve been fortunate to get out nearly every day since the season started for us. I’ve done nothing but jig for panfish and that has been outstanding. I’ve been doing well with Lindy Darters, Slick Jigs and Rattl’n Flyers. Most days, the fish have been fairly agressive, but occasionally, they require a bit of finesse to get them to eat the jig. This is where the Humminbird flasher saves the day. They say, a picture is worth a 1000 words, well… Here’s a video that will sum things up nicely:
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted about any fishing related activity, so I figured I’d better get back in the habit. We are officially back on the ice here in CT! As time has allowed, I have been getting out for a few hours here and there and have been having a blast with the jigging rods over the last week and a half.
I kicked the season off with a little trail maintenance. I got tired of dragging a fully loaded sled through the woods and over all the logs along the way so I brought my saw along. Yeah yeah, I know I have to tighten the chain…
I have been spending all of my time on a couple of coves of the CT river. The jigging has been red hot with loads of perch, crappie, bluegill and even a surprice bass and pike on the light gear. I’ve been using a lot of Rattl’n Flyers, Slick Jigs and darters Most of the better fish came on a slick jig tipped with mummies.
The Darters have also scored well, here is a quick clip of the Darter in action:
I’m also seeing a lot more bass on the small jigs than in years past. This one was a blast on 4 pound line:
Also had a surprise pike a few days ago. Crappy cell phone video but still kinda cool. Again, on 4 pound test, she measured 32″…
For so early in the season, I’m seeing some decent perch already. Normally the big ones don’t show till February. Here is one of the better perch of the season so far. Many times, they would show on the flasher right on the bottom but wouldn’t eat the jig. I found that to get them to eat, i only had to start raising the jig up off the bottom. As they followed it, I would keep it just far enough away that they couldn’t catch up to it. After raising it up 4 feet or so, I would pause the jig and they woulod smash it every time.
So today was day 2 with David and son Kyle. They had a ball yesterday but today wanted to see some bigger bass. The bunker are pretty much gone now as are the porgy so I came armed with eels. Usually this time of year, the eel bite diring the day picks up considerably. Again, we only had 4 hours and we had a slack tide to start our search. The first spot was barren. We had a nonexistent drift and didn’t mark a single fish so after a few drifts, we moved on to another reef 4 miles away.
Things were much different there… We had a decent drift and could see fish on the Humminbird as soon as we pulled up. The very fist drift produced a double of nice bass. David had a heck of a fish that measured 42″. Both were ecstatic and couldn’t wait for the next drift. We had either hits or hook ups on just about every drift for the duration of the trip. David and Kyle had been staying at the Griswold Inn in Essex during their trip and were looking forward to having striper for dinner. We kept one for the table and I filleted it for them to take back to the kitchen at the Inn. David sent me a cell phone picture of their dish and said that it was easily the best fish they had ever eaten. It sure looked to me!
Today I had the father and son team of David and Kyle. They were here from Missouri to look at area schools. Kyle is a fishing nut so they looked me up in hopes of catching their first stripers and blues ever. We got lucky with the weather, it had been blowing hard for well over a week. I wasn’t sure what to expect for action as it had just been too rough to fish much prior to our outing. We had 4 hours to find them some fish. They were hoping for some top water action so we hit a few inshore rock piles and managed a few hits but no hookups. I decided to head out a bit deeper and look for birds out over some local reefs. That did the trick… There were birds everywhere a couple miles out. We threw Badonk-A-Donks and Chuggin’ Spooks and had a field day with small bass and blues. The guys were constantly hooked up and we spent the entire afternoon there. Their arms eventually begged for mercy and we headed in. Along the way, we were treated to a fantastic sunset and a hell of a striper and hickory shad blitz in the mouth of the river. The guys had a blast but have decided that tomorrow they’d like to step it up and try their hand at BIG fish on live bait. Hopefully the fish are still deep… We’ll see!